First Drive: 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible

The previous 2.4-liter four-cylinder remains standard on the entry-level Touring model (the previous LX is gone and, yes, forgotten) and is mated to a six-speed automatic. Chrysler's new Pentastar V-6, also mated to a six-speed automatic, is optional on the 200 Touring and standard on the 200 Limited. With 283 hp, the V-6-powered 200 can get up and go, but it's easy to overwhelm the front-wheel-drive chassis with that much power: stomp on the accelerator as you're merging onto the freeway, for example, and you might induce enough torque steer that the front of the car bobs and weaves like a small boat in high waves. Once you're settled, the 200 tracks straight and rides smoothly. The steering is quick but dead on-center and not very communicative. The brake pedal offers good modulation and response.

As a convertible, the 200, like its Sebring predecessors, has a lot going for it, starting with the fact that it's roomy and versatile and easily holds four people. Chrysler ditched the Sebring's standard el-cheapo vinyl roof (which was mostly a price leader for rental fleets) but still offers buyers the choice of a traditional fabric roof or a folding metal one. We think it looks better with a genuine ragtop, which is well insulated and without compromise.

Wind management with the top down and the air deflector in place across the rear seats is pretty good, and it's easy to hold a conversation at 75 mph, although there's still plenty of air rushing around behind you. The top's operation is completely automatic, and either top can also be operated remotely via the key fob.

The 200's interior is a huge leap forward from the Sebring's cabin, with simple but thoughtful lines, a nicely styled center stack, and higher-quality materials. The interior door panels are well padded and handsomely French-stitched, but the passenger's door of our tester suffered from a piece of vinyl trim that was bubbling, and the rubber molding at the A-pillar was wavy. Chrysler assures us that both these issues are simply pre-production hiccups.

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